HUNTSVILLE — The 30th edition of The Huntsville Times Classic was nearly over for Austin before the tournament was a quarter old.
The Black Bears, however, rallied from a sluggish start and had a chance to tie the game in the second half, but couldn’t complete the rally as Madison County took a 70-57 first-round victory Thursday morning at Huntsville High.
Class 6A Austin simply couldn’t overcome a 14-point lead the Tigers, ranked No. 5 in 4A, built to open the first game of the tournament.
“I don’t think we were feeling it as a team today,” Black Bears senior guard Malique Elliot said. “We’ve got some things to work on and get better for the second half of the season.”
Madison County (9-2) advanced to the second round and will play Hazel Green today at 9 a.m. Austin (6-3) drops to the consolation bracket and plays Huffman at 9.
“The thing about Madison County — they kept hitting shots,” Black Bears coach Demond Garth said. “Every time we got close, they would make a shot.”
For the game, the Tigers shot 57.7 percent from the field (30-of-52), while Austin shot 40.8 percent (20-of-49).
Meanwhile, Madison County senior and UAH signee Sean Webster gave the Black Bears matchup problems. He scored 24 points, 15 of which came in the second half, on 10-of-19 shooting from the field.
Madison County also held a 29-26 rebounding advantage.
“They were relentless on the glass,” Garth said.
Camron Reedus sank a 3-pointer to put the Black Bears ahead 3-2 early in the first quarter.
But by the time Austin scored again, the Tigers had reeled off 15 straight points to lead 17-3 with 3:24 left in the opening period.
The Black Bears didn’t fold, though, and after trailing 23-12 entering the second quarter and 33-23 at halftime began making a move.
Troy Harris, who made five 3-pointers en route to a team-high 17 points, sank a trey to pull Austin to within 39-37 at the 4:54 mark of the third.
After two baskets by Madison County, the Black Bears again pulled within two at 43-41 on two free throws by Reedus with 2:22 left in the third.
Austin regained possession, but threw away an inbounds pass. The Tigers then eased out to a 48-41 advantage entering the fourth.
Austin got no closer than six points the rest of the way.
“We’ve just got to lick our wounds, get ready to play again and keep getting better,” Garth said.
Reedus added 16 points for Austin.
Mitchell Howard added 20 for Madison County. Webster had a game-high seven rebounds.
J.O. Johnson 67, Decatur 46: Johnson outscored Decatur 29-14 in the first quarter and shot 56 percent for the game to cruise past the Red Raiders in the opening round of The Times Classic.
Kaleb Smith led Decatur with 18 points and Na’Vante Williams added 11.
Keon Ray paced Johnson with 14 points.
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